Anniversary of 988 Suicide and Crisis hotline approaching

988 is a suicide and crisis life line for people in need of support
The anniversary of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Hotline will be observed later this month.
Published: Jul. 7, 2023 at 6:21 PM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Three numbers can help save a life. 988 Suicide and Crisis Life-Line has been up and running for nearly a year.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a new conference on Friday with those involved in the program to spread their message of support and continue to spread the word.

Rick Bauman, assistant coordinator at North Central Services, said the hotline is also a personal mission. Bauman worked as a volunteer for suicide prevention after realizing his son suffered from depression and traits of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

His son took his life at age 33.

“It’s the hardest thing I ever had to deal with in my life,” Bauman said.

This loss fueled Bauman to get more involved with mental health-related illnesses and created a depression support group.

“People don’t understand what’s it’s like to have a mental illness, to have your brain controlling your mood,” Bauman said.

There are other options for you if you are in need of immediate support.

Dialing three easy to remember numbers, 988, can connect you to the life-line and have the support you need.

In the Mountain State, First Choice Services answered the national suicide hotline for years.

Sheila Moran, director of Marketing for First Choice Services, said 988 really changed things in West Virginia.

“Nearly 15,000 contacts, so that’s calls, chats, or texts from people right here in West Virginia calling our lifeline,” Moran said.

Doug Jackson, Ohio 988 administrator, said about 90 percent of calls from Ohio, are answered by people in the Buckeye state.

“Ohio has a 19-second speed to answer rate, that compares to the national average of 35 seconds,” Jackson said.

Moran said this makes connecting with people over the phone, easier.

“We know people from West Virginia want to talk to people from West Virginia,” she said.

As workers continued increase support in Ohio, the number of call centers has increased from 12 to 19.

“We knew this first year would provide us with a great deal of insights and learning opportunities that were important to document and use in evaluations, as 988 grows and becomes a more widely known and used resource,” Jackson said.

Calling 988 can get you help now, but it can also get you connected to specialized care, as well.